Online worlds like Second Life are opening book publishing and networking opportunities for writers who are finding it difficult to gain recognition in the regular world. Because of the costs and the competition involved in publishing a book or other written work, very few writers are able to find a forum for their writing. In Second Life, however, authors can sell their books virtually along with find various authors’ groups for support and encouragement.
Just as authors have formed online communities for their passion, they have also gathered in virtual online worlds to create arenas for their work, whether written or spoken. Whole areas in Second Life are dedicated to authors and their books; potential buyers can browse the shops and purchase the books in various forms, including podcasts and e-books. Popular writers have garnered dedicated followings in this virtual world. For example, Diana Hunter, a writer of erotic romances, has become known through her romances that she sells in Second Life, but she also holds writing workshops for those new authors who wish to benefit from her experience and knowledge. She is definitely an example of someone who has gained success in Second Life as well as outside virtual game worlds.
In addition to areas in which to sell works, there are also specialized means for self publishing in Second Life. THiNC has offered products for authors in Second Life since 2005. The THiNC Book 2.0 allows authors and photographers to create a virtual book that can be held and read by the purchaser’s avatar. Unlike a simple text file that can be read in a different computer window, the THiNC Book has the potential for layout and graphics, making its reading an experience more like that of a real world book. The THiNC printing press joins with the THiNC Book to give the author the capability to do their own self publishing and print unlimited numbers of their book for sale and distribution. This technology allows the author to express their creativity in publishing a book according to their own wishes, not that of an editor or publisher.
Writers will also find many authors’ groups in Second Life; the members of these groups come from a worldwide community rather than the local writers’ groups that many will find in their towns and cities. Poetry readings and symposiums give authors the chance to read their works and gain feedback. Writing classes for various genres also take place regularly, giving those interested the opportunity to practice and gain new knowledge. Participating in these events is a unique way to find others who share the same interests and learn from published authors.
As technology evolves, authors are finding numerous venues for book publishing. Virtual worlds such as Second Life offer various opportunities for writers to display their works as well as find groups dedicated to the written word.